A new Generation of Plantoids Comes to Life with DAOstack (and Infra): A Conversation with Primavera de Filippi
Plantoids, as you may know from previous DAOstack updates, are a particular kind of blockchain-based lifeform designed to simulate the characteristics of a plant. As a blockchain-based lifeform, Plantoids operate autonomously and collect the resources they need for their own thrival — in their case by collecting cryptocurrency from human passersby. Like other lifeforms, Plantoids are also capable of reproducing themselves: whenever a Plantoid has collected a certain amount of funds, it opens a call for proposals for the creation of a new Plantoid. Funders then vote on proposals via the Plantoid’s governance structure. Once a proposal has been selected, the Plantoid executes a smart contract transaction, transferring the funds it has collected thus far to commission an artist to create a new offspring. Each Plantoid incorporates within its smart contract a particular set of parameters (or genes) that dictate the evolution of its progeny.
The Plantoid project illustrates through artistic means the core functionalities of a Decentralized Autonomous Organisation (DAO). Each Plantoid instantiates itself in the physical world as a mechanical sculpture mostly made of scrap metal and chains. Its spirit (or soul) exists as a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain, which implements the rules that govern the reproduction of the Plantoid.
Plantoids are the brainchild of blockchain governance scholar, artist, and DAOstack Alchemist Primavera De Filippi. I recently sat down with Primavera to discuss the current status of the Plantoid project, including its integration with DAOstack and more specifically with Infra, a new layer of the stack.
PDF: Since the first Plantoid was born in 2015, it has already reproduced itself in into eleven new Plantoids. Though each Plantoid comes with its own distinctive characteristics, up until recently, the evolution of the Plantoids has been mainly focusing on the aesthetic elements. The last three Plantoids represent a new evolutionary branch that innovates not only at the aesthetic level, but also in terms of functionality and governance.
At the functional level, the new generation of Plantoids have been designed as musical instruments that produce generative music whenever they are ‘fed’ with a particular amount of ETH. These Plantoids are equipped with sensors to gauge the temperature and humidity of the environment, detect variations of light and shadows, and perceive the movements of the people around them. All these data points are sent to an algorithm which generates music in real time. As people dance or move around the Plantoid, they trigger the sensors, and the music is modulated accordingly.
At the governance level, these new Plantoids are the first ones to incorporate DAOstack’s Genesis Protocol as part of their governance structure. The goal is to facilitate the decision-making process with regard to how these Plantoids will evolve. In order to explore the full realm of possibilities, each Plantoid will adopt a different governance structure, using slightly different parameter settings of the Genesis Protocol.
[The Genesis Protocol is the foundational governance protocol provided by the DAOstack project. It implements DAOstack’s Holographic Consensus, a hybrid governance system that relies both on market-based dynamics and reputation-based decision-making in order to support the governance of decentralized blockchain-based organizations . For more information, check out this recent keynote by DAOstack architect Matan Field.]
JZ: What is the difference is between Infra and Arc, and what does it mean that the Plantoid is integrating with Infra specifically?
[Arc, the base layer of the DAO stack, is a modular library of smart contracts that can be combined together to create the governance system for any decentralized autonomous organization.]
PDF: Infra is a subset of of Arc. It contains only the minimal features of voting and decision-making without the full DAO structure. It is useful for those who wish to benefit from DAOstack’s decision-making protocols such as Holographic Consensus but do no want to commit to the full notion of an Arc DAO. So it’s especially useful for smaller projects with very specific needs.
JZ: How do the Plantoids specifically collect funding?
PDF: Plantoids collect funds either in person or remotely. Each Plantoid comes with its own ethereum wallet, which people can send funds to.
In the physical world,, Plantoids try to lure people into donating cryptocurrencies to them, by leveraging their physical and digital attributes. For instance, the three newest Plantoids are designed as musical instruments — acting like a jukebox. By scanning the QR code located on the Plantoids, people can send a specific amount of ether to activate the Plantoids. The Plantoids then start playing music for a particular amount of time, depending on the amount of ether that has been sent.
At the same time, Plantoids can collect money via the internet. Each Plantoid will have its own personal page on the Plantoid website which will describe their distinctive features, in terms of aesthetic, functionality, and governance. People can go to the website and decide to feed the Plantoids that they like the most, even if they cannot directly interact with them.
JZ: And then there is some threshold whereby after the Plantoid has collected enough funding, it opens a call for proposals.
PDF: Yes, that’s where the Genesis Protocol will come in handy. When people feed the Plantoids, they acquire a particular amount of reputation in proportion to the amount of funds they have sent. Once the Plantoid opens the call for proposals, anyone can submit a proposition, but only those who have acquired reputation can vote on these proposals.
Because the whole system relies on the Genesis Protocol, people will also have the ability to make bets for or against these proposals through the DAOstack prediction market. The outcome of the prediction market which will signal to the funders (who can vote on the proposals) which ones are the most relevant or controversial proposals that they should pay the most attention to.
JZ: Are there any parameters regarding what a next generation of Plantoids will or won’t look like?
PDF: All Plantoids incorporate a specific set of criteria into their own DNA, which must be fulfilled and replicated into the DNA of everyone of their descendants. For instance, all Plantoids need to be made of chains, and all their designs must be released under a creative commons license, because that’s part of the genetic code of the Genesis Plantoid, the first Plantoid created in 2015. Those are the basic requirements, but then every Plantoid can incorporate additional requirements — aesthetic, functional, and governance constraints — that will dictate the evolution of their species.
One of the new Plantoids will incorporate the Genesis Protocol within its own DNA, meaning that all its descendants will have to use the same protocol within their governance structure. DAOstack’s Genesis Protocol will thus become an essential criteria for that lineage of Plantoids.